Jon Jones beats Ovince Saint Preux to set up clash with Daniel Cormier at UFC 200
The sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena last night witnessed the number #1 and number #2 pound-for-pound best fighters in the UFC enter the Octagon.
Jones defeats Saint Preux to set up Cormier clash at UFC 200
Jon Jones returned to action for the fast time in over 15 months to defeat late replacement Ovince Saint Preux on the scorecards. Jones entered the arena with his usual swagger and soaked up the atmosphere as he acknowledged all sides while "Coming Home" by P. Diddy/Skylar Grey fittingly blaring over the speakers.
To his credit, his opponent Ovince Saint Preux didn't let the heavy pro-Jones crowd get to him and he looked equally as cool, calm and collected as the fight got under way with Jones on his hands and knees crawling to the centre of the Octagon in his signature crouched position.
Round one began tentatively with both men measuring the distance with probing kicks and punches. Jones found a home with a stiff body kick but Saint Preux pushed forward jabbing his way into distance. Before the round was out, Jones found a home with some stiff kicks but it was ultimately a slow paced start.
At the start of the second Jones looked for a takedown when he caught a kick but it was denied and Saint Preux fired back with some stiff punches. Jones then began to apply the pressure, clinching OSP up against the cage and landing a stiff elbow. Saint Preux broke away though and landed a stiff left that temporarily had Jones back-pedalling. 'Bones' continued to land kicks but Saint Preux rocked Jones with another big left hand that again stunned Jones. Jones rallied back with a roundhouse kick on the buzzer but it was a tight round.
Round three started equally as frantically as both fighters traded stiff jabs. Jones' oblique kicks were giving him repeated success as OSP's movement started to look more laboured. Jones then started working stiff kicks to legs, midsection and head but OSP still walked bravely forward and landed another left hand before the climax of the round.
The championship rounds began with the crowd restless and impatiently booing. Jones started the round with a brief slam takedown but OSP quickly got back to his feet. Saint Preux, who took the fight at short notice was noticeably tiring and Jones took him down again and started raining down elbows. Jones then worked his way into full guard and rained down more elbows before the buzzer saved OSP from being finished.
The final round began with OSP still gasping oxygen into his lungs. Jones worked the oblique kicks again early as a visibly exhausted Saint Preux did everything he could to circle away from danger. With two minutes left, Jones landed a huge slam takedown but OSP somehow recovered to get back to his feet and clinch with Jones up against the cage. The fight ended in pretty unspectacular fashion with some of the crowd booing.
The judges scored the fight 50-45, 50-45, 50-44 to Jones to crown him the new interim UFC light heavyweight title. Jones will now fight Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 to unify the light heavyweight titles.
'Mighty Mouse' destroys Cejudo to record eighth successive title defence
The co-main event of the evening saw the UFC flyweight title on the line as Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson took on former gold medal winning Olympian Henry Cejudo.
Unsurprisingly, round one started at a tremendous pace and Cejudo had brief success as he took Johnson down inside the first sixty seconds. 'Mighty Mouse' quickly got back to his feet though and with Cejudo clinched up, he landed some hard knees to the body and then the head to send the challenger stumbling across the Octagon and face first into the mat. Johnson followed up with a few strikes but referee John McCarthy waved off the fight to give Johnson the TKO victory.
The win gave Johnson his eighth straight title defence leaving him only two away from Anderson Silva's record of ten.
Barbosa hands Pettis his third successive UFC defeat in entertaining lightweight battle
On the undercard, Anthony Pettis took on Edson Barbosa in a lightweight fight that wasn't short of the expected highlight reel moments.
Round one saw the both men exchange stiff leg kicks until Barboza found an opening with two big overhand lefts as Pettis kept his hands dangerously low. Pettis came out with a higher guard in round two, but it was still the Brazilian landing the cleaner shots to take the round.
The final five minutes saw Barboza start more tentatively as Pettis tried, but failed, to land some flashy, flying kicks. With two minutes left, the Brazilian landed a short, sharp body kick that sent a reverberating cracking sound around the arena. Pettis bravely replied though, and an overhand right bloodied the nose of his opponent. In the final 90 seconds, both fighters missed with wild wheel kicks and the fight saw the final buzzer as it ultimately went to the scorecards.
The judges scored the fight 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 in the favour of Barboza to give him the unanimous decision victory.
Danny Roberts edges out Dominique Steele on the undercard
British mixed martial artist Danny Roberts took a close 29-28 victory over Dominique Steele to hand him his second win inside of the UFC. Roberts, nickname 'Hot Chocolate', had a tough first round and was dropped only seconds into the fight by a big left from the American. The London-born man saw the round out with not much difficulty but it was obviously the American's.
Round two saw the momentum shift as Roberts started to land bodyshots and some stinging hooks that visibly slowed the American down. With it one round apiece, it all went down to the third and the American seemed to have the early advantage with a brief takedown. The fight quickly made its way back to the feet though and both men traded big shots before the fight petered out with Steele trying and failing to take the British man down.
In a tough back and forth fight, it went to the scorecards and all three judges scored the fight 29-28 in favour of the British man Roberts. The American crowd booed the decision for obvious reasons but it was 'Hot Chocolate' the man with his hand raised and he had his second UFC victory.
Best of the rest
The main card opened with Yair Rodriguez scoring a stunning flying round house kick knockout on Andre Fili which brought the crowd to its feet and the Mexican a slick fifty thousand dollar bonus.
Australian Robert Whittaker picked up his fifth successive win with an impressive unanimous decision victory over Rafael Natal. Whittaker dominated all three rounds, out striking his Brazilian opponent with some impressive handspeed and accurate body kicks to take the scorecards 29-28, 30-27, 30-27.
In addition to Danny Roberts' win, James Vick, Carla Esparza and Sergio Pettis also picked up decision victories on the preliminary card.
Full UFC 197 Results
Jon Jones def. Ovince St Preux via Unanimous Decision (50-44, 50-45, 50-45)
Demetrious Johnson def. Henry Cejudo via TKO at 2:49 of Round 1
Edson Barboza def. Anthony Pettis via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Robert Whittaker def. Rafael Natal via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Yair Rodriquez def. Andre Fili via KO (flying roundhouse kick) at 2:15 of Round 2
UFC 197 Preliminary Card
Sergio Pettis def. Chris Kelades via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Danny Roberts def. Dominique Steele via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Carla Esparza def. Juliana Lima via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
James Vick def. Glaico Franca via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
UFC 197 Fight Pass Preliminary Card
Walt Harris def. Cody East via TKO (Punches), Round 1 – 4:18
Marcus Rogerio De Lima def. Clint Hester via Submission (Arm Triangle), Round 1 – 4:35
Kevin Lee def. Efrain Escudero via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)